Lt-Gen Haroon Aslam likely to replace Gen Kayani as COAS

Posted by Admin On Saturday, 31 August 2013 0 comments

RAWALPINDI: Lt-Gen Haroon Aslam is most likely to be appointed as Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) after incumbent General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani retires in November this year. 

According to sources, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been advised by his close aides not to ignore seniority for the appointment of next army chief. 

Gen Kayani’s term will expire on November 28.

In additional, Admiral Asif Sandhela will replace Chairman Joint chiefs General Khalid Shamim Wayne who is retiring on October 6.


Secret Evidence of Syrian Government Involvement in Chemical Weapons Attack Comes from… Israel

Posted by Admin On Thursday, 29 August 2013 0 comments
by Scott Creighton
In an earlier article, I wrote about how one prestitute quoted “intelligence officials” when saying they had some secret evidence, a recording of a phone call, showing the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Well, guess what?
That “secret evidence” was provided to us by our good friends from Israel.
That’s right, the same Israel that really wants to keep the Golan Heights forever, have already tried to fabricate evidence of a previous chemical attack from Assad,  and the same Israel that has already bombed Syria… twice.
That’s the source of the “secret evidence”
Not only that, but apparently a “large delegation” of Israel’s war-mongering spooks are in D.C. meeting with Obama administration officials pleading the case for Americans to go to war in order to stop Assad from “gassing the children”…  while Israelis sit back and watch.
I’m not making this up. Swear to God.
If you think such an outlandish story could only come from an antisemitic source, some fringe conspiracy site who finds some way to quote the “Protocols of Zion” in every article, think again… this is from the Times of Israel.
“Netanyahu to hold second security cabinet meeting on crisis in two days; top minister says it’s unthinkable for Assad to be allowed to go on gassing children
While Israel will almost certainly take no direct part in a military strike, Israeli intelligence information is widely believed to have played a central role in enabling the US’s adamant conviction that Assad’s regime fired chemical weapons at civilians outside Damascus last Wednesday, killing hundreds of people and wounding over a thousand, according to Syrian rebel groups.
A large delegation of senior Israeli security officials is currently in Washington holding talks with top administration officials led by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice.”
According to the Focus report Saturday, a squad specializing in wire-tapping within the IDF’s prestigious 8200 intelligence unit intercepted a conversation between high-ranking regime officials regarding the use of chemical agents at the time of the attack. The report, which cited an ex-Mossad official who insisted on remaining anonymous, said the intercepted conversation proved that Assad’s regime was responsible for the use of nonconventional weapons.” Times of Israel.
You really couldn’t make up a more cliched and stereotypical antisemitic  scenario that the one the Times of Israel just published.
I dare you to try (just don’t leave it as a comment. ;) )
The Times story plays right into the hands of everyone who says the Israelis are behind everything bad in the world and that all they want is to have us fight whatever war they want fought against any adversary stronger than the Palestinians living in the world’s largest open air prison.
Yet, there it is, from the Times of Israel. Israeli war-mongers secretly whispering in the ears of our leadership in Washington, presenting their “secret evidence” the whole time knowing full well that Israel has no intention of attacking anyone themselves.
I just report the news. I don’t make it.
by Scott Creighton
The New York Times is attempting to bolster John Kerry’s baseless claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on their own people and in doing so, they seem to have provided some hard evidence to the contrary.
Combine that with recent images and video of the FSA “rebels” making and using 120mm mortar rounds in Syria and you have compelling evidence that if chemical weapons were used in Syria, then it was the US backed “rebels” who did it and not the Assad regime.
Means, motive and opportunity. The basic tenets of any investigation.


This is an image taken from an article in the New York Times which purports to show the location of the site where the rockets were launched.
nyt 1
Notice that the Times puts the “disputed areas” note far below that location but the fact is, both Qaboun and Jobar are currently disputed areas according to this up-to-date interactive map:
The map clearly shows the presence of our destabilization terrorists in those areas where the rockets were supposedly launched from. Right in the center of those three contested areas, to be exact.
The interactive map also shows that Muadamiya, the location where the UN inspection team was shot at, is also “contested” by the terrorists.
All of these areas are currently accessed by the FSA “rebels” which gives them the opportunity to commit this crime.


It’s important to note the scale on the upper right side of the NYT image. It shows the that the impact zone is roughly a mile and a half from the suspected launch site, which is well within the range of rebel weapons like these.
nyt 3
“The Syrian rebels have no one source for their weapons and have had to scrape together their arsenal in various ways. Here, Abdel Hakim Yassin, a rebel commander in northern Syria, inspects a Yugoslav illumination mortar round that was brought to him by an Iraqi arms dealer.” NPR 2012
nyt 4
“Terrorist gangs have carried out series of attacks against civilians residents in Homs city, what resulted in martyrs and injuries.
The attacks have been initiated along with Syrian Army’s advance in the neighborhoods of Homs such as al-Khalidia and Bab Hood, where insurgents have shelled a local-made missil on Radio and TV center in Karm al-Shami area.
Moreover, militants have fired tens of the mortar shells on Ekrama and al-Zahraa neighborhoods, what resulted in many martyrs and injuries.” July 18, 2013
That mortar launcher pictured in the July 2013 article, is clearly capable of reaching the areas supposedly struck by the chemical weapons attack.
It looks like a version of an Israeli Soltam K6 120mm mortar system with a range of 23,750 ft. or 4.1 miles. It could also be an older General Dynamics M120 system.  Either way, it is clearly a long range, heavy mortar launcher, probably of the 120mm variety.
Whatever the make and model of the system that is in possession of the “rebel” forces, the target area is clearly within range and the fact that the area of the suspected launch is currently at least partially controlled by the “rebel” forces, casts serious doubts on Mr. Kerry’s baseless conclusions.
Below is a video of FSA “rebels” using 120mm mortar launchers in Syria posted by the rebels themselves back in March of this year.

Here is a video posted in March as well, showing the “rebels” making their own rounds for the 120mm mortar launcher. As you can see, they are capable of putting whatever they want inside the shell.

These videos and the maps provided by the New York Times and others show the FSA “rebels” certainly have the means by which they could have carried out the chemical weapons attacks if indeed they did occur.


The motive is obvious and hardly needs repeating. These hired mercenaries desperately want to create the pretext for an all out NATO bombing of Syria. They have failed in their terrorism campaign to overthrow the Assad government and they are desperate to create the “red line” that the Obama administration needs for further intervention.


by Scott Creighton
The over-regarded,  overpaid, overworked disinfo assets (a.k.a. “prestitute whores”) are working overtime on the White House’s Syrian equation.
The vast majority of the American people want nothing to do with attacking yet another country on behalf of global financiers and usual suspects of multinational corporations, so the journalists spin doctors are working overtime it seems in order to generate the appearance of a consensus position on the evidence at hand. Or the lack thereof.
Some of their attempts are nothing short of pathetic. Some are rather insulting. Some, slightly better till you dig a little deeper and unfortunately for us here in the states, expose the real rot undermining the foundations of our culture.
It is said that you can’t have a democracy without a free and open press, without a WELL INFORMED public.
It is also said that you can’t convince a population that they still live in a democracy without cynical, pathetic liars who will shamelessly spin any story they are given in favor of the ruling class to which they serve as dutifully as any sycophantic Igors should.
To that end, I provide you with three charming examples crafted by just such prestitute whores, ripped from today’s headlines.
Lying is one thing. But lying about civilian deaths, covering up for the terrorists linked to al Qaeda who actually killed them, in an effort to rush this country headlong into a bombing campaign that will kill thousands of people, enslave yet another nation in the technocratic neo-liberal economy of the IMF and World Bank and possibly even start off WW III…
… that’s a whore of a different color, of a different class.
That’s beyond the usual callus indifference to the truth displayed daily on what we laughingly call the main stream media here in the States.
Like a diseased whore knowingly spreading AIDS to her $10 tricks in a greasy back-alley, that’s a different crime altogether yet committed for the exact same reason: mammon.

1. Bloomberg News Terry Atlas and Sangwon Yoon

For example: here’s a headline from Bloomberg “Assad’s Brother Seen Linked to Syria Chemical Attack
Dramatic, right? It’s got everything you need: chemical weapons connected to the regime that Obama wants changed, family ties to the carnage to justify killing off Assad’s entire lineage. It’s all there.
Unfortunately for “truth, justice and the American Way”, it’s all bullshit.
“The powerful brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is suspected of authorizing the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians, according to a United Nations official who monitors armed conflicts in the region… according to the UN official, who asked not to be named… the official said… ” Bloomberg
You have to be careful when trying to report news to people.
You can’t use qualifiers like “”seen linked” or “is suspected” because they are practically meaningless in terms of proving a point.
The American people used to understand that simple rule but it seems like we’ve been made to accept them simply because so much of our “news” is based on crap like that.
WHO has linked Assad’s brother to chemical weapons use and HOW? WHO suspects him and WHY?
THAT’S news. It gives people information so they can draw their own conclusions.
Anything else is merely unsubstantiated gossip. Or … propaganda.
It would seem that Atlas and Yoon missed the first week of journalism class in college… either that or they are smart enough to know what someone like Billionaire Bloomberg wants to read in his paper.
They did, however, attempt to address one nagging question: why on earth would Assad give Obama the “red-line” he so desperately wanted when he was winning both the PR war and the ground war so decisively?
“The timing of the attack was surprising because the UN chemical-weapons inspection team was already in Damascus, initially assigned to investigating several previous small incidents. Also, it came at a time when the regime, bolstered by Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia, has strengthened its position and recaptured some lost ground.” Bloomberg
Well, they “addressed” the question, they didn’t attempt to answer it.
They just put it out there as if simply mentioning it would be enough to keep their readers from concluding that the only people with a motive to launch a chemical attack would be those inclined to do so and then have the US blame Syria to justify a new bombing campaign on their behalf.
Seems kind of obvious, huh? But, once again, it’s beyond Atlas and Yoon’s comprehensive grasp.
I wonder why they get paid the good money by Bloomberg being as limited as they seem to be. Must be some reason for it? I guess that answer is about as obvious as to my readers as those that seem to elude Atlas and Yoon.

2. The Associated Press John Heilprin

Here’s an example of a slightly different approach to the spin. It is currently posted across the “interwebs” but I chose to link to the Huffington Post version:
That’s dramatic, right? Case closed. The UN team has come to the conclusion that some kind of chemical weapon was used to kill all those millions of innocent civilians.
That’s what all the critics of this new war-mongering have been waiting for, right?
“Evidence suggests that some kind of chemical “substance” was used in Syria that may have killed more than 1,000 people, but any military strike in response must first gain U.N. Security Council approval, the U.N.’s special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday.” AP
This journalistic “trick” (hee hee) is a little different. They actually name the source for one thing. And that should be enough for us “nay-sayers” to figure it’s legit, right?
Well, let’s look a little closer.
Is Brahimi on that UN team looking for evidence of the use of chemical weapons?
So who is he? “U.N.’s special envoy to Syria”? What’s that? Gotta be credible, right?
Takes about 10 seconds to figure that one out.
Lakhdar Brahimi (Algerian pronunciation: [læxdˤɑr bræhiːmi]Arabicالأخضر الإبراهيمى‎; born 1 January 1934) is an Algerian United Nations envoy and advisor, and since August 2012, the United Nations and Arab LeagueSpecial Envoy to Syria.”
“He is currently a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science
“Brahimi was the United Nations special representative for Afghanistanand Iraq. Before his appointment in 2001 by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he had served the U.N. as special representative to Haiti and to South Africa.”
“His daughter, Rym Brahimi, who was a CNN correspondent in Baghdad during the 2003 Iraq War, is married to Prince Ali of Jordan.”
Ahhhh.No wonder Mr. Heilprin left out those little details.
Aside from not really having any real information on the U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, this guy represents the Arab League.  That’s the same Arab League who’s premier members have been financing the terrorism in Syria in the first place.
He’s also locked into the royal family of Jordan by marriage and he always seems to show up as the “special envoy” from the U.N. in whatever country we are about to force regime change.
His credibility is crap and his information is bullshit.
Buried later in the Heilprin article is a sort of an acknowledgement of that simple and painfully obvious fact:
“Brahimi did not elaborate on whether he based his information on the work of the U.N. team or other sources such as Western intelligence, including what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called “undeniable” evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Assad’s regime.” AP
In the end, Mr. Heilprin’s contribution to the moral obscenity that passes for “journalism” in America is no more factual than what was offered up by Atlas and Yoon.
Though in some ways, it’s slightly more distasteful.
In Mr. Heilprin’s world, his editorial staff doesn’t seem to think most Americans would bother taking the 10 seconds required to figure out his source is a biased servant of the same forces who have been hiring terrorists to kill civilians in Syria for the past two years. For that matter, his source has been in service to these same forces his entire professional life. Shit, his daughter is married to them for Christ’s sake.
Seems Mr. Heiprin is more of a jaded and cynical whore than the others.  Professionally speaking, he’s like the aging meth queen at the end of the bar who seems to have given up on make-up and condoms alike but is always ready for a tumble out back.

3. Foreign Policy Noah Shactman

Last but not least, I present to you the fine work of one Noah Shactman of the Council on Foreign Relations’ propaganda megaphone outlet Foreign Policy:
This one is interesting and I saved it for last because you can see that those prestitute whores working directly for the CFR sure do earn their money.
This guy, Noah, is worth every penny they heap on his nightstand as the neocon warmongers wipe off their love stink and head for the door.
Look at how many various lines of propaganda he squeezes into the first two paragraphs of his stained and sticky prose:
Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence servicesThe Cablehas learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.
But the intercept raises questions about culpability for the chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work ofa Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitlydirected by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?”  Foreign Policy
Wow. This guy manages to work in support for the NSA spying fiasco into the story. That’s nice.
That’s craftsmanship.
That’s not just any back alley by the dumpster oral sex, that’s working the sack and the sweet spot in the sphincter as well. Noah’s logged a lot of miles on his knees in the muck to develop that kind of skill, hasn’t he?
Notice what he also does, he crafts in two lines of total bullshit that happen to be emerging as evidence supporting the other side of the story: the fact that Russian sources are reporting phone intercepts of terrorists from the FSA talking about this chemical attack AND a reference to “general blessings” which is obviously a reference to a leaked memo from a U.S. military contractor who was talking about staging a chemical weapons attack in Syria in order to frame Assad’s regime. The problem with that memo is that it’s not concrete. No specific plan is developed… like “some sort of general blessing to use these things” rather than “explicit orders for an attack”
What he’s doing is poisoning the well. Readers will see headlines on other sites, hear talk around the water-cooler, and immediately their brains will register they already know the details of those stories, so they will tune out. Or they will argue that the source their office-mate is quoting got it wrong as they “correct” them. The end result being the real information is canceled out before it’s even discovered. It’s a form of preemptive propaganda.
Goes right along with the Bush Doctrine of preemptive warfare, right? Cute.
Noah’s efforts when boiled down to the bare facts are as lacking in concrete information as the work of Atlas and Yoon. There isn’t one single quote that comes from a named source.
And in many ways, it’s even more jaded and cynical than the effort of Mr. “Dirty Knees” Heilprin.
Noah’s work is based entirely on unnamed sources from the “intelligence community”!
That’s right… the same folks who are training and running the al Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria, trying to destabilize the country in pursuit of the latest regime change operation, are the ones giving Noah his “intel”.
Are you kidding me?
Is Noah that stupid or has the definition of journalism just deteriorated to the point of having absolutely no redeeming qualities what-so-ever?
Like the previous efforts, Noah attempts to address the glaring problem of WHY?
Why the HELL would Assad launch such a horribly ill-timed attack on civilians which will give Obama his “red-line” pretext to get involved when he was winning the ground battle and the PR war so decisively?
Noah offers this:
Nor are U.S. analysts sure of the Syrian military’s rationale for launching the strike — if it had a rationale at allPerhaps it was a lone general putting a long-standing battle plan in motion; perhaps it was a miscalculation by the Assad government. Whatever the reason, the attack has triggered worldwide outrage, and put the Obama administration on the brink of launching a strike of its own in Syria. “We don’t know exactly why it happened,” the intelligence official added. “We just know it was pretty fucking stupid.”Foreign Policy
Well, there you have it.
It was either a mistake, a rouge element in the Syrian military or they just had no reason at all… just “willy nilly” they sat back and said, “you know, things are going so well right now for us, why don’t we just launch a chemical weapons attack against.. I don’t know.. some civilians… for no reason at all and see what happens?”
Yes, it is “pretty fucking stupid”… isn’t it Noah.
(psst. You would think that “telephone intercept” they got would answer part of that question, huh?)
Perhaps Assad sits around on… I don’t know… Tuesdays?… “Terror Tuesdays”?… and he and his guys just willy nilly decide who they are going to terrorize with a drone strike… oops. Did I say that? I meant “a chemical weapons attack”… sorry.
(That’s the jaded cynical Scott peaking out. Won’t let it happen again.)
Is that the jist of Noah’s work? Is that where he ultimately ends up with all his remarkable intel from his unnamed intelligence officials?
“It was fucking stupid”?
You have to be “fucking stupid” to buy that load of crap.
What if every criminal investigation in this country relied on such intrepid evidence as Mr. Noah has uncovered here?
Some Youtube videos made by people with a dog in the fight, a mystery phone recording where someone may or may not talk about chemical weapons used either before or after the event and of course the motive: ” I don’t know why he did it your honor. It was fucking stupid.”
Uh, no. Thanks for the effort Noah, but you can’t convince a reasonably intelligent high school student with that load of used condoms.


So there you have it. Three samplings of what is laughingly referred to as “journalism” these days.
In spite of what you may think, there have always been whores servicing the war-mongers in this country since before it was a country.  Just ask the Mohawks about their press coverage back in the day.
Sluts like those who scribbled these three examples have been working the streets of D.C. since long before pavement was invented.
They don’t call it the oldest profession for nothing.
The difference may be that at least a few rational voices could be heard or read just as readily back then. Voices that calmed the fevered war-pitch with a little thing called the “truth”
They weren’t all that rich and they weren’t invited to the right parties at the end of every quarter.
They usually sat in the back of the newsroom, bitter and angry but brutally honest and pissed off at the streetwalkers who profaned the profession they loved so dearly.
Someone once said he approached Hunter S. Thompson and tried to be cute asking him that stupid question “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
Thompson slapped him upside his head, or so the story goes.
Brutal honesty.
John Kerry recently said that having an open and free internet makes it harder to “govern”. Given the moral obscenity of his last Colin Powell moment, I can understand why he feels that way.
All Johnboy has to do though is leave a little extra on the nightstand next time he visits the brothels at Bloomberg, the AP and Foreign Policy. He’ll get what he pays for and in the end, money talks don’t it?
To all those used up prestitute “journalists” for whom I am writing about today I can only offer you one bit of advice:
There is no alcohol strong enough to wash away the rot growing inside you nor is there enough of it in all the confessional booth bars ringing the government sector of D.C. for you to drown the voices of conscience screaming out at night in your head.
Cash the checks. Keep your money in the secret get-away fund location under your stained and saturated mattresses.
You’ll need it.
Because in the end, like all products of our crappy “new economy”, whores have a predetermined shelf life which is rather short in comparison to what it used to be.
Either your Johns will need to move on to newer and fresher meat, unspoiled by a career spent regurgitating their sadistic lies, or your nocturnal exploits will become public knowledge and your careers will be over, leaving you forever marred in self loathing and shame.
There’s a reason I mentioned Hunter Thompson, don’t ya know?
So let’s drink a toast to that day, shall we?
The day everyone sees you for the sell-out, used-up, spent monsters you’ve become and the day you can finally get off your knees and out of the sticky puddle  you’ve been pretending is a pedestal.
They say the first step is admitting you have a problem… but it’s always a little easier when total strangers give you a nudge.
Consider yourselves nudged.


Verbal drones deal to be translated into formal written contract

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The government informed the National Assembly on Monday that 339 drone attacks had been recorded in the country since 2004, according to findings of a number of unofficial organisations which followed America’s policy to use drones worldwide. A written answer submitted to the house in response to a question said that 400 civilians had died in the tribal belt as a result of the attacks. There was no mention of the number of terrorists killed.
The focus of the answer was on how the government disapproved of the attacks, termed them a violation of the country’s sovereignty and was building pressure through likeminded organisations, countries and the UN against their legitimacy.
Minister of State Khurram Dastagir Khan was filling in for the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz.
Nabil Gabol of the MQM criticised Mr Aziz’s continuous absence from the house and asked the speaker to ensure his attendance in view of the importance of his ministry.
To a flurry of questions in which members sought a clarification whether the government had any underhand understanding with the US government to allow the use of drones in the tribal areas, Mr Khan’s categorical answer was ‘no’.
He said the government hadn’t found any written agreement between Pakistan and the US on the use of drones, but it could be safely assumed that the previous two governments led by the PML-Q and PPP had silently agreed, hence they never forcefully raised the issue.
Dr Shireen Mazari of the PTI asked if there was no such agreement, why the government did not take adequate measures to stop drones from entering the country’s airspace.
“Pakistan and the US have a broad-based relationship and considering its importance the government is trying to resolve the issue of drone attacks,” the minister said.
Mahmood Khan Achakzai of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party urged the government to tell the people why it couldn’t stop the Americans from using drones in the country.
The prime minister in his first speech in the National Assembly on June 5 had reaffirmed his party’s stance that drone attacks must end. The Foreign Office lodged a strong protest with the US government against recent drone strikes.
During a recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan the issue was discussed in detail, the minister said, claiming that since then the frequency of the attacks had decreased.
He said Pakistan’s stance had been endorsed by UN Counter-Terrorism Special Rapporteur Ben Emerson who said during his visit to Pakistan in March that the drone attacks violated the country’s sovereignty and had resulted in the death of around 400 civilians.
On Aug 19, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay told a Security Council meeting on protection of civilians that “the current lack of transparency surrounding their (drone) use creates an accountability vacuum and affects the ability of victims to seek redress”.
She said she was “seriously concerned about human rights implications for the protection of civilians from armed drone strikes carried out in the context of counter-terrorism and military operations, including in Pakistan and Yemen”.
Replying to other questions, Mr Khan said the army was adequately responding to unprovoked firing by India from across the Line of Control in Kashmir, but the government was against escalating the tension. “We have raised the issue at all available forums.”

By the code of morality

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Kerry, UN’s self proclaimed spokesman, paves way for military intervention in Syria. It must be noted that the United Nation’s mission (specifically sent for this purpose) has not yet given an official statement on the matter, but the US seems to have revealed ground breaking evidence that proves the Assad regime guilty. It is perhaps reasonable to wonder what this crucial evidence was being guarded for all these months of darkness and uncertainty with respect to Assad’s crimes? Rotting away in a closet? Or being saved for Hollywood-esque timing to spice up this thriller?
More importantly it is of grave importance that American citizens become more critical of their government’s intentions. Let’s not forget what happened in Iraq. To date the country continues to burn in the aftermath of a war that mustered no justification. The WMDs turned out to be a figment of US’ war hungry establishment’s imagination and America’s paranoia as a nation post 9/11 served to lower the standards of evidence.
Millions of Iraqis became target of the chemical weapons used by the United States, along with other obscenities. Over the years civil activists, veterans and Iraqi media have all spoken out against the suffering of their people. But their voices have been muffled.
The war waged 10 years ago continues to hamper lives and seems to have left the Iraqi people in a constant state of turmoil which they are afraid they might never be able to recover from. Deprived of basic infrastructure and security; ‘never again’ should apply to them too. This was not a war on terror, but of terror. As scores die every day and millions suffer from depleted uranium which has been dropped on Iraq for almost a decade, the US has refused to even engage any criticism generated towards the ruins they’ve left behind.
It is worth noting that Saddam Hussein was a CIA agent when he came into power, and had US support and intelligence backing him when thousands of Shi’tes were slaughtered under his regime. It was also the US who provided and supported Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Iran. Perhaps by the time Saddam was at his peak the Iraqis had had about all the help they could want from the United States to bring peace. Similar was the case with Libya, which continues to burn in ashes as armed groups slaughter each other and anarchy prevails. Was it not the United States that had supported Gaddafi for decades?
US war crimes have incessantly been highlighted by HRW and Wikileaks among other sources, but have never been pursued by either the UN or victims of American aggression. The US conveniently refuses the jurisdiction if the ICC over its own military. How can more responsible behavior be expected when there is absolutely no accountability? Instead spoils are distributed and resources secured. With no international law above their own, and the aftermath of the Manning case, what can stop the American military from expanding its sphere of influence? For now our only hope is China and Russia’s veto in the United Nations Security Council.
By Zoon Ahmed Khan

Syria Crisis: Thinning line between Bush and Obama

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WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering military action against Syria that is intended to “deter and degrade” President Bashar al-Assad’s government’s ability to launch chemical weapons, but is not aimed at ousting Mr. Assad from power or forcing him to the negotiating table, administration officials said Tuesday.
A wide range of officials characterized the action under consideration as “limited,” perhaps lasting no more than one or two days. The attacks, which are expected to involve scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from American destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, would not be focused on chemical weapons storage sites, which would risk an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe and could open up the sites to raids by militants, officials said.
The strikes would instead be aimed at military units that have carried out chemical attacks, the headquarters overseeing the effort and the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks, according to the options being reviewed within the administration.
An American official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are deployed. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets.
Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site, a far more limited unleashing of American military power than past air campaigns over Kosovo or Libya.
Some of the targets would be “dual use” systems, like artillery that is capable of firing chemical weapons as well as conventional rounds. Taking out those artillery batteries would degrade to some extent the government’s conventional force — but would hardly cripple Mr. Assad’s sizable military infrastructure and forces unless the air campaign went on for days or even weeks.
The goal of the operation is “not about regime change,” a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said Tuesday. Seeking to reassure the public that the United States would not be drawn into a civil war in the Middle East, and perhaps to lower expectations of what the attack might accomplish, Obama administration officials acknowledged that their action would not accomplish Mr. Obama’s repeated demand that Mr. Assad step down.
Some lawmakers have warned that the operation might turn out to be a largely symbolic strike that would leave the Assad government with the capability to mount sustained attacks against civilians with artillery, rockets, aircraft and conventional arms and would do little to reduce the violence in Syria, limit the flow of refugees or encourage Mr. Assad to negotiate seriously if a Geneva peace conference is convened.
Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, suggested in an interview that the attacks go further than what appears to be under consideration by the administration, including strikes on the Syrian Air Force, its munitions depots and military fuel supplies to “tip the battle in favor of the insurgents.”
“We should try to help the rebels and help the people fighting Assad,” Mr. Engel said.
Frederic C. Hof, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who previously worked on Middle East issues for the State and Defense Departments, has urged that the Obama administration consider a broader military mission: destroying or significantly degrading the ability of the Assad government to carry out intensive artillery, aircraft and rocket attacks with conventional as well as chemical warheads on the civilian population.
“Something that is significantly less than that, something that is seen as symbolic, I think would just enable Bashar al-Assad to say I have stood up to the world’s only superpower and faced it down,” he said.
The main American attack is expected to be carried out by cruise missiles from some or all of the four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers within striking range of Syria in the Mediterranean: the Mahan, the Barry, the Gravely and the Ramage.
Each ship carries about two dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles, a low-flying, highly accurate weapon that can be launched from safe distances of up to about 1,000 miles. Tomahawks were used to open the conflicts in Afghanistan in 2001, in Iraq in 2003 and in Libya in 2011. Attack submarines also carry Tomahawks and are assumed to be on station in the Mediterranean as well.
Officials said that while Syrian rocket and artillery sites were expected to be targeted, there were no current plans to use Tomahawks to crater airfields used by the government to receive weapons and military supplies from Iran, an important lifeline for the Assad government.
Weapons experts said that Tomahawk missile strikes, while politically and psychologically significant, could have a limited tactical effect. The weapons are largely fuel and guidance systems and carry relatively small high-explosive warheads. One conventional version contains about 260 pounds of explosives and another version carries about 370 pounds. Each is less than the explosive power of a single 1,000-pound air-dropped bomb.
The weapons are not often effective against mobile targets, like missile launchers, and cannot be used to attack underground bunkers. Naval officers and attack planners concede that the elevation of the missile cannot entirely be controlled and that there is a risk of civilian casualties when they fly slightly high.
Some officials have also cautioned that Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants might step up terrorism around the region in reaction to American strikes on Syria. Another risk is that Mr. Assad might respond to the attack by firing missiles at Turkey or Jordan or mounting even more intensive attacks against civilians.
Although some experts believe that the Syrian government already has its hands full trying to contain the rebels and would not relish a war with the United States, they say that the Obama administration needs to be prepared for another round of airstrikes should Mr. Assad raise the stakes.
In an indicator of the complexities within Syria’s civil war, and the difficulties faced by the Obama administration in any effort to guide the conflict’s path, jihadi fighters opposed to Mr. Assad were warning one another to take steps to avoid being hit in any impending American attacks.
On Monday night, one prominent member of the Nusra Front, a rebel group aligned with Al Qaeda and designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the United States, used a Facebook posting to urge fellow members to move away from their bases or positions in Syria.
“All fighters in Jabhat al-Nusra,” he wrote, using the organization’s Arabic name, “please constantly change your positions and don’t share anything online. There is a conspiracy by America and its tails to hit our positions.”
Attacking chemical weapons storage sites comes with the same difficulties and risks associated with attacking munitions depots generally, and with its own special dangers, which the American military encountered in two wars in Iraq. First among them are risks of contamination to the very Syrian civilians that any military action would officially be intended to protect.
Many veterans suspect that some of the effects of Gulf War syndrome that afflicted veterans of the Persian Gulf war of 1991 were caused by exposure to chemical weapons released in clouds by conventional airstrikes against Iraq’s chemical weapons sites in southern Iraq.
After the first gulf war, an American Army unit near Kuwait breached chemical weapons while destroying conventional munitions at Khamisiyah, creating an environmental hazard that persisted throughout the American occupation of Iraq after the invasion in 2003.
Similarly, airstrikes in 1991 on bunkers at the Muthanna chemical weapons complex near Samarra, Iraq, led to security and environmental problems that continue to the present day.
During the Clinton administration, the United States and its NATO allies carried out extensive airstrikes against Serb forces in Bosnia, which weakened them to the point that a peace settlement to end the Bosnia war was negotiated in 1995 at an American Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio.
Similarly in Kosovo in 1999, an intensive NATO air campaign that lasted 78 days led to an agreement in which Yugoslav forces withdrew from Kosovo, and the region achieved autonomy and eventually independence.
Mr. Obama’s national security aides have been studying the NATO air war in Kosovo as a possible blueprint for acting militarily in Syria without a mandate from the United Nations.

The Suez on the knife’s edge

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The world has been there before, more than once, and if history is a good indicator of the future, we could be driven to the edge of disaster again, taken back to the years of Russou-Japanese wars (1904-1905) and WWII. A possible closure of a major geopolitical chokepoint: the Suez Canal in Egypt is not entirely a schizophrenic dream.
The international community is anxious and with good reason. The potential tremors in case of such an event will have devastating effects on the global economy which despite its ‘resilient dynamism’ is still not strong enough to withstand such a blow. The 101-mile man-made link between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean along with the 200-mile Sumed pipeline is a strategic trade route for oil and gas shipments to the West from the Gulf region that saves up to nearly 2,700 miles of transit. Closure would mean having to travel a considerable distance southwards parallel to the length of Africa and sailing past the Cape of Good Hope to reach the Atlantic waters: the cost and shipping time will shoot up significantly.
The ripples will go even as far as the subcontinent where there is an appetite amongst the more bourgeoisie classes for imported high-end products coming from the West through the canal. For Egypt itself too, the Suez Canal is crucial: it helped earn $2.4 billion during the first half of 2013. Nearly 3% of the world’s oil supply (2.5 million barrels) goes through every day and almost 8% of global trade transits the canal.
Even speculation spells disaster when it comes to hypothetical crises in the Suez region. The triggers of global anxiety and panic are beginning to take shape and there is talk of darker times ahead for the oil markets as Brent hit a four-month high of $111.53 on August 15, 2013 owing to concerns that violence in Cairo could affect the Suez Canal. “Bloodshed and unrest in Egypt and the disruption of oil supplies from Libya have put a floor under oil prices,” said Carsten Fritsch, senior oil analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
Naysayers in the debate continue to argue that a complete closure of the canal and pipeline is not likely. This argument is substantiated by the fact that despite all the chaos and violence in Egypt, the USS Truman carrier strike group has recently transited the Suez Canal into the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in a manner that was “routine” and “safe” according to navy officials.
For a former U.S. intelligence officer, Cedric Leighton (who helped train Egyptian military officers), an “an outright civil war” would send the alarm bells ringing. Leighton also emphasized that it is very likely that the government will be successful adding that “it will probably get worse before it gets better”.
Geopolitical strategist at Barclays (BCS), Helima Croft has stated that the closure of the canal would be at the military’s discretion and that the institution would not “deprive Egypt of that hard currency and further antagonize the West”. She opines that the Suez will remain open adding, however, that there are legitimate concerns regarding “one-off attacks”.
Yet however far-fetched or unlikely it is considered, the situation instead of self-correcting could in fact easily spiral out of control. In hoping for the best, thus, it would be naïve to not prepare for the worst on the premise that a complete blockage of the canal has not happened in the past 38 years and will not happen even in the face of war. The narrative of continuity of the trend is flawed: access was restricted twice prior to the nationalization of the canal by Nasser. Post-nationalization too, history could surprise us with its characteristic predictability as the same thing might happen albeit for different reasons.
Between normalcy and chaos in the Suez region stands the threat posed to stability by Sinai-based Islamic insurgents. The militant activity has quickened the pace of its operations post the military coup. Even with Morsi no longer in power and the Muslim Brotherhood’s claims of not contributing to the increase in violence following his ouster, the Egyptian wing’s will to reassert its influence as part of a larger movement through one means or other has not died down.
Another heavily debated possibility is that the military government could use the canal to blackmail the West for more aid. Although this cannot be completely ruled out either, it can be argued that Egypt has more to gain by allowing the free and unrestricted movement of goods through the Suez. There are geopolitical interests at stake too that make the equation more complicated: a tussle between the West and the Gulf has ensued as both are picking opposing sides (at least from the looks of it), vis-à-vis the ideal form of government in Egypt with the former also strongly condemning the use of violence by the military regime.
These dooms day scenarios could shift the locus of attention to the South China Sea which would gain significance as a Pacific Fleet conduit to South Asia where establishing and expanding bases would become a top priority. Yet these are hypothetical scenarios and as of now, the crisis has not entirely gone out of control. Hopefuls still argue that businesses are not worried by the current events: maritime insurers are by and large, relaxed (Lloyds of London is one such example).
A tempest may be in the making or it could just be another false alarm. As for now, Egypt finds itself on the knife’s edge struggling to maintain its balance as the world looks on.  A dearth of clarity is heightening global angst and is likely to spread like wild fire given the volatility of the Arab region.  The global economy is at stake, one wonders if the remaining components of “trifecta”, the shale oil boom and the South China Sea together can help insulate it against these shockwaves.